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The PSAT Test: Fast Facts

Fact 1

The PSAT/NMSQT® (or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a preliminary version of the SAT that tests your skills in math, reading and writing. Prepping for the PSAT will help get you ready for the ACT and SAT, and it can open the door to a National Merit Scholarship or other awards.

Fact 2

With $180 million in scholarships awarded to students who achieve high scores on the PSAT, how you perform on this exam can help you earn scholarship dollars that change the direction of your college planning.

Fact 3

The PSAT/NMSQT is offered every year in October. Most students take the PSAT during the school day, and students are eligible to take various versions of the PSAT in 8th–11th grade.

Fact 4

You’ll find four sections on the test: Reading, Writing and Language, Math-No Calculator, and Math-Calculator. Kaplan offers ways to customize your PSAT prep around the sections where you need to focus most.

Fact 5

The most important PSAT scores are your Total Score, your Math Score, your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score, and your NMSC Selection Index. In order to be eligible for National Merit, you must be a high school junior and a US Citizen. In addition to National Merit, many other scholarships use your PSAT scores to determine eligibility and award money. Your PSAT score report will also provide you with information to help you begin preparing for the SAT.

Fact 6

The PSAT is not used as an admissions test and cannot replace the SAT or ACT on your college applications. Instead, it is used to practice for the SAT and ACT, win you scholarship money, and help place you into higher-level classes.

Fact 7

The PSAT lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes. In addition to the actual test timing, your Test Day experience will include time for check-in, verbal instructions, and short breaks. Our PSAT prep options help you practice your timing and pacing.

Fact 8

You’ll receive your scores back in December. This detailed breakdown can be used to see how you compare to other students and focus your prep in time for the SAT and ACT.

Fact 9

We recommend prepping for the PSAT so that you are confident on Test Day. However, remember that these scores will not be sent to colleges. If you are in range to compete for National Merit, you should consider beginning your prep in the summer to earn your best score in October.

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